Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sansa's Lemon Cakes

In the Game of Thrones, lemon cakes rule.
I admit it, I'm a fan of George R.R. Martin's series of books, Game of Thrones.  I've always been an anglophile of sorts, and love any good medieval story.  I'm especially fond of anything from the Elizabethan period of English history.  One of the things I enjoy about the series is Martin's consistent descriptions of the food his characters are eating.  Despite the science fiction nature of the story, he truly embraces the type of fare that someone living in this medieval time would have available.  Some of it is downright disgusting to me, but some of it is interesting at the least.

As luck would have it, the HBO premier of season two begins tonight.  I am attending a "premier party" of sorts - and offered to bring the sweets.  Fans of Martin's story immediately agree that Lemon Cake is a must.  One of his characters is especially obsessed with them, despite the disturbing events unfolding about her.  I had to make some Lemon Cakes in her honor. 

Thank you, Hubby, for lending me your 2 liter growler for blog purposes!

I turned to a rather fun source for a recipe, Inn at the Crossroadsa great blog by some true fans of Martin's work.  They've devoted lots of time and ingredients in re-creating the dishes described - even the gross ones!  They had a few recipes for Lemon Cakes, and I knew immediately I'd use their Elizabethan version for the premier party.  I wasn't looking for modern day light and fluffies drenched in buttercream.  I wanted dense.  At least as dense as Sansa's my opinion.

I varied only by omitting the poppyseed and putting in fresh chopped rosemary instead, a nod to my Mother-In-Law who makes the very best modern lemon-rosemary cupcake on earth.

The pennant cake toppers are also a great little extra from Inn at the Crossroads site, in their "plan a premier party" section.

This was harder than a dragon's egg to photograph.

Sansa's Lemon Cakes
(adapted from Inn at the Crossroads Elizabethan Lemon Cakes)

  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) yeast
  • 3 TBS warm ale (I used Leinenkugels Summer Shandy for extra lemon infusion)
  • dash of baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • scant TBS fresh rosemary, chopped fine
  • juice of one lemon
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 TBS honey
In a small pan of boiling water, blanch the lemon being used for zest for about 30 seconds to remove wax & pesticide residue.

Sift together the flours and salt, set aside.  Dissolve yeast in warm ale, along with 1/8 tsp of the flour mixture.  Your yeast should bubble up after a few minutes, indicating that the yeast is still active.* 

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs and rosemary, followed by lemon zest and juice.  Gently add the yeast by hand, and begin to fold in the flour, about 1/3 at a time.  Use as much as you  need to make a smooth, thick batter.  Place liners in cupcake pan and fill the cups about 2/3 full.  Bake in the middle of the oven at 325 degrees for 20** minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool slightly before turning out onto a rack.

While cupcakes cool, mix the lemon juice and honey for the glaze.  When the cakes have cooled, brush the glaze on generously.  This may take several passes as the glaze soaks into the cake.  Don't be tempted to omit this step.  The honey/lemon is crucial to the moisture of these cakes.

Here ya go, Sansa Stark.  You're in for a world of hurt in season 2.  Eat up.

*   I thought this was nuts when I read it, but it really works!  The initial yeast/ale/flour mix looked lumpy and odd, but after waiting a bit it did come together and bubbled!

Probably what the inside of Cersei's head looks like.  Heh.

** Original recipe called for 10-15 minute baking time.  My cakes were still raw at 10 minutes and only half-cooked at 15.  There was little to no rise in these cakes, as I expected.

These cakes would make anyone in Westeros happy.  They aren't the lookers you would see in today's cupcake windows.  I gilded the lilly as it was by using the cupcake wrappers instead of just baking them naked.  Although, HBO would probably have gone that

Are you a GOT fan?  If not, I think you'd still really enjoy these cakes.  If so, I ask you...which banner are you carrying tonight?  Enjoy the show!


  1. nice idea.. thanks for sharing....

  2. These were REALLLLLLLY delicious! I loved the texture of them. Thank you for bringing these to the party! It would not have been GOT without them!

  3. Gorgeous! Could we use one of your photos on the blog? :D

    1. Sure! I'd be glad to if you'll be so kind as to link back to my post here with credit for the photo! Glad you like it!

  4. hahahaha! Love all the subliminal disses! Love Game of Thrones! Maybe you can feature a Jon Snow inspired cupcake next? Great blog!


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